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Gentry v. Saul

United States District Court, M.D. Tennessee, Northeastern Division

January 8, 2020

KAREN DENISE GENTRY
v.
ANDREW M. SAUL Commissioner of Social Security [1]

          REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION

          BARBARA D HOLMES UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE

         To: The Honorable Waverly D. Crenshaw, Chief District Judge

         Plaintiff filed this action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. §§ 405(g) and 1383(c)(3) to obtain judicial review of the final decision of the Social Security Administration (“Commissioner”) denying Plaintiff's claim for disabled widow's insurance benefits under Title II of the Social Security Act (“the Act”). The case is currently pending on Plaintiff's motion for judgment on the administrative record (see Docket Entry (“DE”) 11), to which Defendant has filed a response. See DE 16. This matter has been referred to the undersigned pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 636(b) for initial consideration and a report and recommendation. See DE 4, 17.

         Upon review of the administrative record as a whole and consideration of the parties' filings, the undersigned Magistrate Judge respectfully recommends that Plaintiff's motion for judgment on the administrative record (DE 11) be DENIED.

         I. INTRODUCTION

         Plaintiff filed an application for disabled widow's insurance benefits on August 13, 2015 in which she asserted that she was unable to work due to back pain, neck pain, right arm pain, left knee pain, and vision problems. See Transcript of the Administrative Record (DE 7) at 93, 116.[2] She alleged a disability onset date of January 16, 2014, but later amended this to August 17, 2015. AR 39-40, 111.

         Plaintiff's applications were denied initially and upon reconsideration AR 93, 111. Pursuant to her request for a hearing before an administrative law judge (“ALJ”), Plaintiff appeared with counsel and testified at a hearing before ALJ Todd Spangler on August 21, 2017. AR 36. On March 9, 2018, the ALJ denied the claim. AR 13-15. On July 23, 2018, the Appeals Council denied Plaintiff's request for a review of the ALJ's decision (AR 1-3), thereby making the ALJ's decision the final decision of the Commissioner. This civil action was thereafter timely filed and this Court has jurisdiction. 42 U.S.C. § 405(g).

         II. THE ALJ FINDINGS

         As part of the decision, the ALJ made the following enumerated findings:

1. It was previously found that the claimant is the unmarried widow of the deceased insured worker and has attained the age of 50. The claimant met the non-disability requirements for disabled widow's benefits set forth in section 202(e) of the Social Security Act.
2. The prescribed period ends on September 30, 2021.
3. The claimant has not engaged in substantial gainful activity since August 17, 2015, the alleged onset date (20 CFR 404.1571 et seq.).
4. The claimant has the following severe impairments: joint dysfunction status-post reconstructive surgery of a weight-bearing joint; disorder of the spine (20 CFR 404.1520(c)).
5. The claimant does not have an impairment or combination of impairments that meets or medically equals the severity of one of the listed impairments in 20 CFR Part 404, Subpart P, Appendix 1 (20 CFR 404.1520(d), 404.1525 and 404.1526).
6. After careful consideration of the entire record, the undersigned finds that the claimant has the residual functional capacity to perform light work as defined in 20 CFR 404.1567(b) with the claimant capable of lifting and carrying up to 20 pounds on an occasional basis and 10 pounds on a frequent basis. The claimant is capable of standing and/or walking for six hours during an eight-hour workday, and sitting for a total of six hours during an eight-hour workday. The claimant is capable of occasionally stooping, kneeling, crouching, crawling, and climbing ramps, stairs, ladders, ropes and scaffolds.
7. The claimant is unable to perform any past relevant work (20 CFR 404.1565).
8. The claimant was born on August 17, 1965 and was 50 years old, which is defined as an individual closely approaching advanced age, on the alleged disability onset date (20 CFR 404.1563).
9. The claimant has at least a high school education and is able to communicate in English (20 CFR 404.1564).
10. Transferability of job skills is not material to the determination of disability because using the Medical-Vocational Rules as a framework supports a finding that the claimant is “not disabled, ” whether or not the claimant has transferable job skills (See SSR 82-41 and 20 CFR Part 404, Subpart P, Appendix 2).
11. Considering the claimant's age, education, work experience, and residual functional capacity, there are jobs that exist in significant numbers in the national economy that the claimant ...

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